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Celebrating International Epilepsy Day

Staff at the RAF Benevolent Fund turned the office purple today to celebrate International Epilepsy Day. Also known as Purple Day, the date sees people across the globe coming together to drive awareness on epilepsy and help make a difference to the lives of people affected by the condition.

Celebrating Purple Day 2019

Welfare Projects Manager Peter Ashcroft said: "Around 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every day and each person is affected differently.

"Epilepsy is a hidden disability and if we can all take five minutes today to read up on its effects, we can be more supportive of our friends and colleagues living with this condition."

As the charity that sits at the heart of the Royal Air Force, the Fund works closely with RAF families and we are proud to be in a position where we can step in and make a real impact in the lives of any RAF Family members who are affected by epilepsy and might need support.

Down memory lane

Throughout the years we’ve shared many stories on how we were able to help. In case you missed them, here’s a summary:

The Fund was first able to help Flight Lieutenant Sara Howarth back in 2014, with a grant during her rehabilitation. Sara was just 40 years old when she suffered a life-threatening bleed to the brain.

Nine months after her haemorrhage, Sara developed epilepsy, which further knocked her confidence as it dramatically affected her independence. Despite all this, on October 2016 Sara took on a 5k Colour Run in Brighton to raise funds for the Fund, the charity which has supported her throughout.

Fast forward to May 2017, we shared how the Fund have helped Flight Sergeant Mark Yardley and his wife Dawn towards making adaptations to their house, including hoists, level access entry and a through floor lift, allowing their son Sam to access the whole house in his wheelchair.

Following complications during his birth, Sam was starved of oxygen. As a result he suffered brain damage, and one of the ways that affects him is epilepsy.

In Mark's own words: "Without their support we would have had to move away from the health care trust that we have such a good relationship with, schools and most importantly our support network. It would have been very difficult, not just for us but for Sam as well."

In June 2017, Sergeant John Wright shared in a guest blog the story of his son Lewis who suffers from severe epilepsy and has complex needs. In the early years of his life this resulted in prolonged hospital admissions and some emotionally testing times for John and his wife Mary. We adapted John's home to help with the care of his son.

As part of his blog, John explained how: "within the bedroom there is a new safe space style bed which will be suitable for Lewis into adult life. Lewis also now has his very own iPad with a communication app which will hopefully become a voice for Lewis in the future."

Sergeant Phil Tempest and his wife Jannine had been away with their two boys Joe and George before but the accommodation hadn't been quite right for their son George's needs. George suffered a stroke before he was born which left him with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and learning difficulties.

We helped Phil's family via the RAF Disabled Holiday Trust which provides accessible holidays for the RAF Family. "We would not have been able to afford a villa like this so it was really nice to be able to go.

"We have often got to the point before a holiday where we ask ourselves 'are we doing the right thing, what if something goes wrong?' but with this holiday it just meant we could relax as a family," Jannine added.

Read the full length of the stories mentioned above.

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